If you’re an absolute newbie to blogging or creating anything online you may be asking the most popular question ever: how do I choose a blogging platform?
There are several amazing blogging platforms out there, which makes the decision rather difficult. Nothing could be worse than dedicating hours and hours of your time to learning a particular platform only to realise at a later stage that it doesn’t offer what you need. This means going back to the drawing board to rebuild your site again on a different platform. But you want to avoid all of this, right?
So, how do you choose the right one for you?
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLATFORM FOR YOUR BLOG
Before we begin, it would be wise to review your blogging why’s and goals.
Once you’ve determined the driving force behind your blog, decide on your budget and be honest with the level on which your tech skills are at. The latter might affect your budget should you decide on hiring a designer or developer to do it for you.
If you’re a beginner blogger with limited skills you’ll want something that’s quick and easy to setup. Something that’s not too expensive but with the options to expand should you require to do so in the future.
As a fully established business owner, you might have more to invest in the platform you use and one of your goals could be to start selling your products online or to create a membership website. In this case, you’ll be looking for a platform that offers a whole load of functionalities.
Below are a few platforms you could choose from, listed in order of my personal preference. I left WordPress.org to the end because naturally, that’s the one I’d recommend 😉
Squarespace is a drag and drop platform that has really grown in popularity over the last 2-3 years, and I can totally see why!
With the BEST range of extremely well-designed themes to choose from, they’ve absolutely nailed down the minimal, clean, professional look that’s bang on trend right now!
I thoroughly enjoyed testing out this platform since I personally think it’s WordPress.org’s biggest rival, and because my favourite blogger Elle & Co’s website is built on it.
That being said, Squarespace mostly focuses on small businesses, online shops and portfolio websites.
- Squarespace is a drag and drop website builder making it easy for anyone to create a website, fast!
- How fantastic is this: Squarespace has 24/7 support with a 1 hour email response turnaround time – no matter what time of day it is?!
- Squarespace offers you Cover Pages (aka Landing Pages) that can either be used alongside one of their templates or as a standalone website.
- They have the best range of exceptionally well-designed templates that are clean and chic.
- Squarespace is very SEO friendly.
- When you purchase a domain through Squarespace, it includes a SSL Certificate.
- Squarespace allows you to accept both Paypal and Stripe payments.
- Squarespace automatically sets out the mobile layout of your site so you don’t have 100% control over how it displays on mobile devices.
- Honestly, it was hard finding cons for this platform!
Squarespace prices start from $12 a month and go up to $40 for the ‘Advanced’ Package which includes absolutely EVERYTHING. You can also purchase your domain name directly from Squarespace which will cost you $20 a year.
Some Squarespace Website Examples
I was pleasantly blown away by Wix and think it’s a fantastic alternative to WordPress for beginner bloggers.
Wix is a free drag & drop website builder. It requires zero tech skills and is super easy to setup – input your email address and a password, then choose a template and you’re almost ready to launch.
With 103 million registered users and about 45,000 new users joining every day, it’s clear to see that it’s popularity is growing rather quickly.
- This platform is a drag and drop website builder, again making it easy for anyone to create a website, fast!
- Wix has over 510 beautiful & professional templates to choose from making it the drag & drop builder with the biggest theme collection – here’s a Wix template I spotted that’s absolutely gorgeous!
- Wix pays attention to what their customers want and they are constantly adding new tools and designs to their database.
- They have an awesome database of niche specific apps which can expand your website’s functionality.
- Unfortunately, with Wix, it’s difficult to change templates. So once you’ve picked a template to use, you can’t switch to another template without having to reinsert all your content.
- Wix doesn’t have an ‘export’ or ‘archive’ feature, which means that you can’t take your content out of Wix should you decide to change platforms.
- With Wix you can’t amend your CSS or HTML making it harder to further customise your theme.
To start, Wix is free, however, you can upgrade to paid packages which range from The Most Basic at $4.50/month to The VIP (Everything and more Package) which is $24.50. Note: these prices are based on you paying a yearly subscription.
Some Wix Websites
Another drag and drop website builder that I was pleasantly surprised by – yes, I’ve totally been underestimating these drag and drop website builder platforms. Haven’t I?!
Weebly is a great one for small business owners who want to get online ‘today’. However, I don’t think I’d recommend it for newbie bloggers since I find their blogging interface to be a little clumsy.
- Weebly is a drag and drop website builder, again making it easy for anyone to create a website, fast!
- You have full access to the CSS & HTML files to completely customise your design.
- This point, you either love or you hate – Weebly comes with pre-designed layouts to help you place your content. I personally think this is useful if you’re not great at design.
- They have a lovely selection of fully mobile responsive ‘Bold & Beautiful’ themes to choose from.
- Weebly has an awesome integrated E-commerce Platform!
- They also offer loads of third-party Apps that allow you to extend the functionality of your website.
- I really didn’t enjoy the blogging format, I found it extremely confusing and wondered how you’d ever find your old blog posts again?!
- Should you decide to move to another platform you’ll either have to migrate your blog posts over manually or via RSS.
Initially Weebly is free, however, if you don’t upgrade, their branding will be at the bottom of your website which screams unprofessional! Weebly’s prices start from $8/month and go up to $38/month. You can also purchase your domain through them which will cost $19.95/year.
Some Weebly Website Examples
I’ve noticed that WordPress.com is most newbie bloggers go-to platform, and understandably so since it’s quick, easy and free to setup.
Once you’ve signed up you’ll have a domain much like yourdomain.wordpress.com but with a little ‘upgrade’ you can change your domain to something like yourdomain.com and add on some premium features.
- It’s free and very quick to setup, making it a great platform to use should you want to test out the whole blogging thing!
- It’s the limited version of WordPress.org so if you’re a newbie blogger you won’t feel overwhelmed by learning about plugins and updates and themes and and and!
- Unlike WordPress.org, WordPress.com takes care of all the updates and hosting so you don’t have to worry about any of the admin stuff.
- The free package has their branding on it so you’ll most probably want to pay for an upgrade.
- You can’t use any of the premium WordPress.org themes or plugins.
- HTML and CSS amendments can only be made once you’ve upgraded.
WordPress.com is initially free, however, you can upgrade for as little as $2.99 a month to remove the ads, get a custom domain and support. One thing I noticed that is relatively new, is that with the Business plan ($24.92) you can upload themes and install plugins.
WordPress.org (aka the self-hosted one) is the most popular blogging platform; even Beyonce uses it!
WordPress.org is an open source platform which means their codes are open to anyone who wants to use and modify it. In turn, this means there are loads of plugins that do just about everything, and themes suited for any type of business or blog.
It’s obviously my platform of choice. However, I have to disclose that it comes with its own set of cons just like all the rest.
- As it is an open source platform, there are hundreds of amazing themes and plugins to choose from. Think of a function you’d like added to your website and I’d bet there’s a plugin for it!
- You can basically create any blog or website that you want. You’re in FULL control of your space.
- It’s SEO friendly.
- There’s a host of awesome support out there.
- WordPress.org has a bit of a steep learning curve and so getting started can be quite daunting. Fear not though! Sign up to my Free WordPress Course and you’ll be online in no time at all!
- If you don’t keep on top of your website i.e. keep your theme, plugins and WordPress itself up to date then you leave your site open to being hacked.
- With it being an open source software, anyone can create themes and plugins – even if it’s terrible! Keep this in mind when installing something onto your site, and make sure that it’s from a reputable source.
As WordPress.org is self-hosted you’ll need to invest in both hosting and a domain name. The former can be between $3 – $35 and the latter anywhere from $10 upwards.
Some WordPress.org Website Examples
Choosing a platform can lead to mega procrastination, so I really hope this blog post has helped you decide which platform is the right choice to get you started on your blogging journey.
If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below.